John Zawis, a 29-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, father of two and grandfather of five, spends nearly every Saturday on a Habitat job site. He is what the construction superintendents affectionately refer to as a “regular.”
John’s first project was in 2008 at Foundation Lane in El Cajon, where he was drawn to the Habitat mission and the fact that homeowners take such an active role in their future. “I was intrigued by the idea of offering a hand-up and that the families have some skin in the game,” says John. Since then, he has worked on homes at Harding Avenue and G Avenue in National City, Florida Street in Imperial Beach, and Rock Street in San Diego. He is now beginning work at Habitat’s newest build site in Lakeside which will serve wounded veterans and their families.
John had no construction experience when he began with Habitat, aside from tinkering around his house. He credits the patience and helpfulness of the Habitat construction superintendents. They began as teachers, then mentors, and he now considers them friends. He now supervises up to 6 people at a job site.
Retirement is on the horizon for John and he sees himself spending a lot more time on the Habitat construction sites enjoying the work, the camaraderie with volunteers, and bonding with the partner families.
“We’ve all had times in our life when we’ve had a little help from someone else until we get our momentum going. At Habitat, we’re not just helping the families, we’re helping future generations. Kids have a better chance in school and better places to grow up – we’re really paying it forward."
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